More Than 1 Million Gallons Of Oil Has Spilled Into The Gulf Of Mexico Putting Endangered Species At Risk

Photo by: U.S. Coast Guard, Courtesy of Clean Gulf Associates

The U.S. Coast Guard has reported a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast that has released more than 1.1 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. Skimming vessels have been working all week to contain and recover the oil since it was discovered last Thursday near a 67-mile pipeline, operated by the Main Pass Oil Gathering Company (MPOG). Officials are concerned about the oil’s potential impact on endangered and threatened species in the area.

Just north of the spill, the world’s most endangered sea turtle species, the Kemp’s Ridley, was found hatching for the first time in three-quarters of a century in the Chandeleur Islands. The Gulf is also home to Rice’s Whales, which are considered one of the most endangered whales in the world with fewer than 100 remaining. Oil spills can push both of these species closer towards extinction.

MPOG has organized response resources through Forefront Emergency Management and local Oil Spill Removal Organizations, including Environmental Safety & Health Consulting Services, Inc. and Clean Gulf Associates. The Unified Command is coordinating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Forefront Emergency Management, and other federal, state, and local agencies to ensure the safety of the public and respond to the catastrophic event.

The spill, now named the “MPOG11015 incident,” is the latest in an area that has seen some of the worst offshore oil disasters in the nation’s history. On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people. Before it was capped three months later, approximately 134 million gallons of oil had spilled into the ocean, equivalent to the volume of over 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

On December 15, 2010, the U.S. filed a complaint in the District Court against BP Exploration & Production and several other defendants alleged to be responsible for the spill. An $8.8 billion settlement for ocean restoration was reached in 2016, and restoration efforts are still continuing today.

The U.S. Coast Guard stated that it is investigating whether the MPOG pipeline was the source of the oil spill and said that the pipeline was closed down the same day the oil spill was discovered.

Mariners are encouraged to report any observations of oil to Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Command Center at (504) 365-2200.

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